Things to do in Los Angeles: 25 weird and fun ways to explore LA

From moonlit hikes and time-travel shopping to gawking at Mexican wrestlers and naked celebs, here are some of the quirkiest things to do in Los Angeles.

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  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Jumbo's Clown Room

  • Photograph: Courtesy Plaza

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Plaza

  • Things to do in Los Angeles: California Institute of Abnormal Arts

  • Photograph: Courtesy Palms Thai Restaurant

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Palms Thai Restaurant

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: LA Derby Dolls

  • Photograph: Courtesy Lucha VaVoom

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Lucha VaVoom

  • Photograph: Nanette Gonzales

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Devil's Playground at Dragonfly

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Griffith Park Night Hikes

  • Photograph: Brian Erzen

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Das Bunker

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: The Prince

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Devil's Night Drive-In

  • Things to do in Los Angeles: Heritage Square Museum

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Echo Park Time Travel Mart

  • Things to do in Los Angeles: Skeletons in the Closet

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Wacko Soap Plant

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Necromance

  • Things to do in Los Angeles: Baby Jane of West Hollywood

  • Things to do in Los Angeles: Hotel Figueroa

  • Things to do in Los Angeles: Farmer's Daughter, No Tell Room

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Things to do in Los Angeles: Farmacia y Botanica Million Dollar

  • Things to do in Los Angeles: Liberate Emporium

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Things to do in Los Angeles: Jumbo's Clown Room



Looking for things to do in Los Angeles? Try these off-the-beaten path suggestions; ones you won't find in any normal LA city guide. Time Out has quirk covered with this list of the strangest and most fun things to do in Los Angeles.

1

Jumbo's Clown Room

  • Price band: 1/4

Welcome to the land of milk and honey known as Jumbo’s Clown Room. Hollywood’s notorious pole dancing club, this small laid-back dive has dancers of all body types shaking it onstage to rock music hits from the past and present. It’s not a “strip club” per se; pierced, inked, and totally rock and roll, these chicks don’t get naked, but perform some serious pole acrobatics onstage in their underwear. The crowd is eclectic and the vibe is welcoming: men, women, old-timers and newbies come to witness the sexy skills of these badass alternative beauties. Tips for the dancers are always encouraged, but if guests don’t have the funds to “make it rain” for the girls, they can sit farther away from the stage, order some drinks and enjoy the show.

  1. 5153 Hollywood Blvd
More info
2

Plaza

A self-described “ghetto-fabulous dive bar,” Plaza features Mexican drag acts dancing and lip-synching to Spanish hits, bookended with a few non-drag musical numbers. Think of it as Mexican vaudeville. The crowd is all over the map, representing gay, straight and everything in between, so the chance of anyone feeling out of place here is highly unlikely. With an ambience that’s sparkly and straight out of the 99 Cent Store, the atmosphere always feels festive and playful. Cheap drinks aplenty.

  1. 739 N La Brea Ave
More info
3

California Institute of Abnormal Arts

  • Price band: 1/4

Totally worth the drive over the hill, the California Institute of Abnormalarts (CIA, get it?) is a NoHo nightclub that’s equal parts bad acid trip and carnival sideshow of atrocity. Started by two dudes who like collecting the freakiest “art” on earth, the place is stuffed from floor to ceiling with zombie clowns, pickled fetuses, wax pirates, preserved corpses, dead fairies and the like. Throw in a lot of blacklight and some funhouse mirrors and... you get the picture. The acts booked here are equally weird and include circus performers and bands that dress in a wild variety of costumes from pirates to mutated chickens. Open until 1am, but be forewarned: some nights, at the owners’ discretion. Cash only at the bar.

  1. 11334 Burbank Blvd
More info
4

Bootie LA

This twice-monthly event at Echoplex is like no other club experience in LA: All the music is comprised entirely of bootleg mashups of new and old hits. (Ever heard “Eye of the Tiger” mixed with Nirvana, mixed with Beyoncé? You will.) Even better, people come here to dance. Though some wear costumes—bikini stripper wear, fairy tale attire, '80s-inspired leotards and legwarmers—most are in jeans and Converse, and everyone is drenched in sweat by midnight.

  1. 1154 Glendale Ave, at Echoplex
More info
5

Palms Thai Restaurant

Looking for food with a little frivolity? The cavernous Palms Thai Restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard is Thai Town’s crowning jewel. The food is spicy and authentic?as evidenced by its always bustling dining room, filled with Thai families. The best part? Palms is home to Thai Elvis, a diminutive Elvis impersonator who serenades devotees with hits like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Mystery Train.” Be forewarned: Palms is noisy and Thai Elvis performs over the din of boisterous conversations and an intercom system that cuts in to call out available seating. But watching it all unfold is part of the show. Thai Elvis performs nightly starting at 7:30pm.

  1. 5900 Hollywood Blvd
More info
6

LA Derby Dolls

  • Price band: 2/4

The Los Angeles Derby Dolls, LA’s all-female roller derby league, is an institution, as well as a frightening display of athletic prowess. The players’ fishnets and booty shorts may add to the spectacle of the event, but don’t let those cutesy outfits fool you these women play fists-out, full-contact derby. The league’s home base is the Derby Doll Factory, located in Downtown LA, which houses its “banked track”; that means the outer rim of the track is elevated allowing for soaring speeds and, when things go awry, serious bloodshed. With help from a DJ blasting rock in between matches, as well as some spirited announcers, the mood in the venue stays amped at all times. The Doll Factory also provides a wide variety of food from some of LA’s best food trucks, and plenty of stands selling booze.  (All ages. Children 10 and under free.)

  1. 1910 W Temple St
More info
7
Lucha VaVoom

Lucha VaVoom

  • Price band: 2/4

Lucha VaVoom isn’t just a Mexican wrestling show—it’s a devilish circus straight out of sin and fantasy showcasing acrobatics, pyrotechnics, nudity and midgets. Lucha VaVoom performs at the historic Mayan Theater about twice every other month. Though the violence is staged, the fight moves are nothing short of spectacular. Think WWE, but with much more complicated choreography and higher aerials. Guest comedians like Fred Armisen and Drew Carey often give running commentary. In between matches, a light show and jamming tunes serve as the backdrop to some of the most unique acts ever seen: a Geisha-style dancer doing a slow strip to “God Save the Queen,” or a midget in a blue monkey suit flying out of the ring and straight into an audience member’s lap. If you’ve got a predilection for the strange and the titillating, welcome to your new home. There are plenty of opportunities to imbibe as canned beer and liquor are sold throughout.

  1. 1038 S Hill St, at The Mayan
More info
8

Vixens at Dragonfly

Hollywood mainstay Dragonfly is an often loved, and often loathed, hole-in-the-wall live music venue. What’s loathsome are the unkempt bathrooms, but what’s loved is this spot’s creativity when it comes to booking colorful live acts. Enter Vixens: a Jell-O wrestling & burlesque show, produced by Devil’s Playground, with a healthy tongue-in-cheek attitude. What’s better than watching beautiful dancers slog it out in America’s favorite dessert while ripping each other’s clothes off? Not much. Devil’s Playground produces a new themed show, complete with costumes and music, about every six weeks, so the show name changes often. Past shows included titles like VideoGame Vixens and ComicBook Vixens. There was even a StarWarsVixens—where participants dressed up like Leia and Darth Vader and got down and dirty on-stage.

Shows run about every six weeks, usually on a Friday. Opening times are 9pm- 2am, but the shows usually start around 11pm. Tickets are $15 in advance online (though, there’s a limited number available) and $20 at the door. Check the website for upcoming dates.

  1. 6510 Santa Monica Blvd
More info
9

Griffith Park Night Hikes

Sure, everyone goes to Griffith for the views—but when you go at night that magical feeling of seeing the expanse of Los Angeles from afar is an entirely different ballgame. The Sierra Club leads all levels of hikers through some challenging paths, lit only by the lights of the city. There’s also a monthly “Moonlit Hike” where hikers can bathe in the blue light from above while they get in a workout. Hikes last about two hours, so start off with an easier option and see how it feels. Well-mannered dogs on leashes are allowed, as are kids when they’re accompanied by an adult.

Meets at the Upper Merry Go Round parking lot Tuesdays through Thursdays (and one Friday per month) at 6:45pm. (Tues & Thurs hikes include easy-to-advanced options. Wed hikes are slower and offer easy-to-moderate options.)

  1. 4730 Crystal Springs Dr
More info
10

Das Bunker

  • Price band: 1/4

If you’ve got some serious demons to dance away, skip the velvet rope celebutante madness of Hollywood and drive south to Pico. Held at The Catch One, Das Bunker is Los Angeles’ multi-roomed industrial and goth dance event that’s low on attitude and high on freak factor. Unlike the loungey club atmosphere a few miles north, people come here to actually work up a sweat on the dance floor. From goth kids to aging metalheads, there’s a little something for everyone.

  1. 4067 W Pico Blvd, at The Catch One
More info
11

The Prince

  • Price band: 2/4

Want to eat octopus tentacles while sitting on Naugahyde? Hell yes, you do! The oak paneling, oil paintings and moody red lighting of this historic Korean haunt will make you feel like you’re conducting some dirty business in a secret spy restaurant. (No wonder Nicholson and Dunaway filmed a scene from Chinatown in here.) Feast on sea snails and squid parts?or just try the famous Korean fried chicken and the unusual yet delicious fruit platter. The drinks menu is generous, but the drink aren't cheap, so stick to something simple (bottled Hite, perhaps).

  1. 3198 W 7th Street
More info
12

Museum of Death

Located on Hollywood Blvd, the Museum of Death offers a soul-stirring―and sometimes stomach churning―glimpse into the dark heart of humanity. Founders James Healy and Cathee Schultz started the museum as a way to educate the masses on all things death-related. They succeeded. Some highlights of the 45-minute self-guided tour include Serial Killer Artwork, actual crime scene photos from the Manson Family Massacres, a body bag collection, and yes, an actual severed head. The looped video installations are just as haunting; visitors can watch the Heaven’s Gate recruitment video, or brush up on their anatomy by viewing footage of a real autopsy.

  1. 6031 Hollywood Blvd
More info
13

Electric Dusk Drive-In

  • Price band: 1/4

This funky drive-in hosts monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) movies on a rooftop in the heart of Downtown, as well as private screenings and special events. You can park and enjoy the movie from your car, or grab an astroturf ticket to sit on the "grass" (bring lawn chairs, blankets, etc.). You'll also get a snack order sheet when you arrive, which you can fill out and hand back to your carhop, who'll bring your order right to you. As if this didn't sound cool enough already, the drive-in is also pet-friendly, so bring your pups!

  1. 1000 San Julian St
More info
14

L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition

Scientology is so LA, so why not dive in and see what all the fuss is about? At the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition, you can finally uncover the mysteries of Scientology—or discover that it’s as nonsensical as you assumed, but still damned entertaining. Test out an actual E-Meter, learn the history of the religion, or watch a video explaining what emotions are and why they’re bad. The paranoid behavior of the people who work there will make you feel like you’re trapped in a real life version of 1984, but scarier.

  1. 6331 Hollywood Blvd
More info
15

Heritage Square Museum

  • Price band: 1/4

Step back in time with this living history museum, which allows visitors to experience Southern California life during the Victorian Era. Heritage Square is a collection of eight structures, including a railroad station from Century City, a church from Pasadena, and a variety of formerly private residences from across the city—each of which were constructed during the mid-to-late 1800s. All of them were saved from demolition, lifted off their foundations and trucked to this central spot where some have been restored and others are still in process. A real treat is the guided tours led by a well-taught (and sometimes hilarious) staff dressed in period costumes.

  1. 3800 Homer St
More info
16

Echo Park Time Travel Mart

  • Price band: 2/4

At first glance, the inside of this storefront resembles any other market in the area—but look closer and you’ll find a collection of funny “time travel” curiosities that one needs in order to visit the past and future. Oddities include Robot Toupees, Aeon Bottled Time (i.e. sand in a bottle), Barbarian Repellent, Primordial Soup In a Can, and a whole bunch of books. What’s going on? The market is a ruse: everything in it is indeed for sale, but the store is actually a front for 826LA, a nonprofit organization which tutors kids ages 6 to 18. Founded by author Dave Eggers, 826LA gives free creative writing classes to kids. All the books in the store? They’re written by those children. Many are professionally published in tandem with publishing houses around LA and some are actually sold on Amazon. The classroom is located through a door in the back of the shop, and only the kids who take classes even know it’s there. Shoppers can buy cool gifts, or volunteer to teach the kids. If you come up with an idea for a product to sell in the store, the employees will help you design it and the store will sell it. Which might spur others to drop some money and add to the financial support of this amazing nonprofit. How cool is that?

  1. 1714 W Sunset Blvd
More info
17

Skeletons in the Closet

Gallows humor meets capitalism at this bizarre coroner's department shop. Gifts, "to die or kill for," include beach towels, T-shirts and aprons emblazoned with chalk outlines of corpses; toe-tag keychains; garment bags stamped with the words “Body Bag” and real “Coroner” jackets worn by the actual folks who go to crime scenes. It’s especially freaky because the museum and gift shop are housed in the actual LA Coroner’s building, so it’s really quiet, save for the occasional wailing of loved ones coming to identify their dearly departed. Seriously.

  1. 1104 N Mission Road, at the LA County Coroner
More info
18

Wacko Soap Plant

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

In the clear light of day, does your apartment look like a shrine to mediocrity? Need a collection of Mao Tse-tung wall art or sparkly unicorn floor mats? Spice it up with the freaky offerings at Wacko Soap Plant, known to locals simply as Wacko’s. A curiosity and book store (with a gallery, La Luz de Jesus, in the back), this sprawling retailer offers an exhaustive collection of everything colorful and cool, like Hindu dashboard deities, Betty Page shower curtains, jalapeno string lights, Tibetan statues, Japanese bobbleheads, and Mexican death figurines. It’s worth spending an afternoon just amusing yourself with the extensive book collection on kitschy art.

  1. 4633 Hollywood Blvd
More info
19

Necromance

  • Price band: 2/4

Straight outta the sultry swamps of New Orleans comes Necromance, a menagerie of bygone bones & teeth, Victorian era medical and dental tools, turn-of-the-century postcards and taxidermy. It’s a well-curated collection of the fascinating, beautiful and macabre set in a charming little store on Melrose. Want a broach decorated with a fetal pig? How about a bronze, dragon-embellished opium pipe? If it’s weird and old, it’s here.

  1. 7220 Melrose Ave
More info
20

Baby Jane of West Hollywood

  • Price band: 2/4

Everyone comes to Hollywood to see the stars, but how about seeing them the way nature intended? At Baby Jane of Hollywood, you can peep at all manner of naked pictures of your favorite Tinseltown icons—plenty of current ones, too. The store also has a stellar collection of non-pornographic memorabilia, like vintage movie posters and costumes straight off film sets. But the celebrity-porn collection is the most fun: uncensored paparazzi shots (Oh, Paris! Wear some undies already!) and beefcake pics of everyone from Douglas Fairbanks Sr. to Antonio Banderas.

  1. 7985 Santa Monica Blvd
More info
21

Hotel Figueroa

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This striking hotel is a dramatic mix of Morocco and Mexico, and oozes the kind of charisma boutique hotel designers so often fail to achieve. Built in 1925 as a YWCA, the Figueroa is now more exotic, but it's still an absolute bargain. The hotel's airy lobby is a potpourri of Moroccan chandeliers, huge cacti and woven rugs; toward the back, there's a low-key bar and a lovely pool area that's at its atmospheric best after dark. The rooms, which vary in size, are done out in funky casbah chic with Mexican-tiled bathrooms. Mod cons are few and far between, but they're not really the point.

  1. 939 S Figueroa St
More info
22

Farmer's Daughter, No Tell Room

Want a little less romance and a little more bowm-chicka-bowm-bowm? Skip the questionable hygiene at the Sunset strip dive motels and head to the Farmers Daughter Hotel (across the street from The Farmers Market.) This affordable and charming boutique hotel is definitely quirky, with its rooster-themed wallpaper, pig statues and picket fencing. But more importantly, the hotel offers a special type of room called the “No Tell,” featuring a wet bar, mirrored ceiling and mirrored headboard. No Tell rooms are where folks with a sense of humor get down and dirty. Each room features a painted wall mural of wheat. Some sort of earthy nod to virility? (Or maybe the owners are just really into farming.) Either way, this little hideaway lets you play dirty without the shame.

If you book directly through the hotel, their No Tell Rooms start at about $199 depending on time of year and length of reservation.

  1. 115 S Fairfax Ave
Book online
23

Farmacia y Botánica Million Dollar

  • Price band: 1/4

When witch doctors (santeros) go shopping, they head to this botánica, which has all the herbs and ingredients they need to make their potions. There's lots of DIY hocus pocus, too: love potions, bath oil that quells gossip, medallions to protect children.

  1. 301 S Broadway
More info
24

The Well at PIHOP

A visit to the Pasadena International House of Prayer (PIHOP) is a one-stop Christianity shop of classes, workshops and services. But this Christian spiritual center also offers a free “prophetic readings” series called “The Well.” At the Well, visitors get a private session with a group of prophets―all trained at PIHOP―who relay personal prophetic messages that come straight from God. Think of it as a sort of Christian themed fortune-telling service.

The Well happens the first four Saturdays of every month. Sign-up starts at 5pm (Get there early, as this particular service is quite a draw and it’s first come, first serve).

  1. 1401 N Lake Ave
More info
25

Liberate Emporium

  • Price band: 1/4

A peaceful den in Los Feliz, Liberate Emproium is part New Age store, part service center offering healing and transformative services in the forms of hypnotherapy, intuitive readings, tarot, Reiki and the like. Its owner, Cristina Dam, is trained in holistic healing and stocks her store with products she believes provide actual transformation or liberation, like spiritual board games about forgiveness, oils and incense, and hula hoops to “ground the body.” There’s no hard sell here. Low on funds? Liberate offers a free workshop in Pranic healing every Sunday evening. If you’ve got a little cash to spare, the intuitive readings with Janette Marie (starting at $25 for 15 minutes) are highly recommended. Free Pranic Workshop Sundays starting at 5:30pm.

  1. 1765 Hillhurst Ave
More info


Users say

5 comments
Eric
Eric

One major omission: The Museum of Jurassic Technology!

boring me 2 death
boring me 2 death

this is the big city and all its glory . THE FAST LANE !! no one is convinced yet. next tell us to watch ant races . perhaps watch the flea circus. los angeles AINT nO ~~ IBIZA ~~in any way shape or form ....

Ben
Ben

if you're looking for a good experience in Hollywood you should visit this site http://www.discoverhollywood.com/ it has a good list of restaurants, events, places of interests... very usefull

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